Day Nineteen | Jade's Journey | A Story of a Growing Family
My journey to this little baby girl actively started nearly 4 years ago when my second son was stillborn due to a placental abruption and I lost my uterus due to a severe uterine rupture at the same time.
I knew that our family was not complete, and I had a giant hole in my heart as well as a desperation to care for as many children as possible and fill up my home. So, we started to pursue other ways of growing our family. We originally settled on domestic adoption, but we hit several roadblocks leading us to fostering.
At about that time, Samantha approached me about the possibility of a surrogate birth. She said a feminine spirit was clearly telling her that she was going to give us a baby. She had already been thinking about it for a year before she approached me. A few friends had offered, but nothing had come of any of those offers, so we had already tabled the idea of surrogacy. However, something felt different with Sami.
Although we didn't get our hopes up very high and focused instead on preparing to be a foster family, we did continue to think and talk about pursuing the surrogacy arrangement. A year or so later (which was last summer) Sami brought up the subject again, and we decided to move forward.
We discussed every aspect we could think of and got to know each other and each other's preferences quite well. We decided on a traditional surrogacy, using her egg and my husband's sperm. So, in mid-September, Jasmyn was conceived! We worked together to decide on all of the birth details. We hired a midwife and made sure that Sami was as comfortable as possible throughout the pregnancy. The pregnancy went extremely smoothly, no complications or difficulties. On June 13, her due date, after only 4 hours of labor, Jasmyn was born into my hands. Her father and brother were also present, as was Sami's husband and her 2 older sons. It was an amazing, magical experience - it was exactly the birth I had wanted. There was never any question that she was meant to be here and meant to be mine through Sami.
Since Jasmyn was born, I feel like the huge hole in my heart has been filled. I have a peace in my soul that I had never before experienced. My relationship with my husband and my son have both improved. My husband has stepped up to become more of a partner than he has ever been before. I feel like I was waiting for her my entire life, perhaps multiple lifetimes, and now that she is here, our family might just be complete.
We are still fostering after having Jasmyn, but we are focusing on older kids instead of the babies and toddlers we've fostered in the past. We currently have a 6 year old girl who will likely be with us for at least a couple years. It is very good for Jeron (our son) to have a sibling close to his age, and they entertain each other, which gives me more time to devote to the baby.
I attempted to re-lactate by pumping only. I pumped for around 7 weeks before she came. When I first began, I got a few drops of clear colostrum, but that quickly went away. I chose not to take hormones or pharmaceuticals. In retrospect, I wish I had taken the hormones, but I am still glad I didn't take the drugs, as they have some pretty nasty side effects, are actually made to treat other conditions, and are not totally approved for nursing babies.
But I had too much faith in my own body. With my sons, lactating was the one thing I could do decently well. Although we got off to a rough start, I nursed my first for 19 months, and he only weaned because I was pregnant again. When my second was stillborn, I lactated for 2.5 months without a baby to feed. This made be believe that my body would rise to the occasion of feeding Jasmyn fairly easily, so I chose not to take the hormones.
When my milk didn't come, I was honestly disappointed with my body. But I held out hope that my milk would come in after a matter of days or weeks after Jasmyn was born - but it never did. I used a SNS for the first few weeks.
It was difficult and stressful, but I loved nursing my baby again. However, sometimes it would take 15-20 minutes to get her to latch. I was exhausted and stressed. So, my husband started to use the SNS on his finger too. When she was a few weeks old and I had not gotten so much as a drop of my own milk, I was so disappointed in my body.
As much as I am profoundly grateful for the gift that Sami gave me, I also struggled with the fact that my own body couldn't do any of it. I thought this would be the one thing I could actually do. But no. Even when we switched to bottles (of donated breast milk) after a few weeks, I continued trying to nurse her for comfort, but she is usually not interested. This has led to feeling rejected by my baby.
However, introducing the bottles and giving up on the SNS allowed me to feel much less stress and frustration. I could feed my baby when I needed to, and my husband and son could take a larger role in feeding her. At 2.5 months old, she still gets donated breast milk and will for as long as we can get some for her. Bonding with her comes so naturally that it's hard to say what extra we do to bond. My son is much slower to bond with her, but she is growing on him.
We were able to see Sami nearly every week starting right after Jasmyn was born, and she took to nursing with Sami very well. When school started and our lives got crazier, we've been seeing each other less and Jasmyn has been losing interest in nursing. We will continue to try though as long as Sami is willing. It is a lovely moment to witness, and I'm so grateful that I've been able to work through the jealousy I had previously toward mamas who can nurse easily so I can simply enjoy the beauty of the moment.
Sami still nurses Jasmyn sometimes, though we only see her a couple times a month - she now shows a very strong preference for her bottle. What is most important is that she is getting breast milk, even though it's not mine, and that she is happy and healthy and growing and thriving. When I look at her and see how perfect she is, any disappointment in her eating preference just evaporates and truly doesn't matter.
Read Samantha's side of this story here. Have you struggled with some part of nourishing your little ones? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below. If you would like to share your own story of bottle, breast or any kind of combination please contact me so we can start to plan the perfect session for your family.